Out of the Box
A really neat application that I recently discovered is story maps. As their name suggests, story maps are just another social media channel to tell a story.
In a nutshell, story maps use geography as a means of organizing and presenting information. They tell the story of a place, event, issue, trend, or pattern in a geographic context. They combine interactive maps with other rich content — text, photos, video, and audio — within user experiences that are basic and intuitive. They use the tools of geographic information systems (GIS) but don’t require their users to have any special knowledge or skills in GIS so anyone with access to the Internet and a curiosity about the world can use them, according to their web site.
Similar to when you walk through an art gallery and listen to a tour on headphones, one great application for a story map is a walking tour through a historic district.
In my day job, people have asked me to create an Ottawa River trail. The river is more than 1200km long and if you virtually covered both sides of the river you could potentially have 2400 locations, 1km apart. I envision a story map fundraiser based on a combination of such ‘old school’ fundraisers as a ‘donation wall’ (where you buy a cardboard heart or leaf and tape it to a wall) and the ‘adopt a mile of highway’ campaign.
I still need to figure out how to monetize this app, and how to let viewers upload their own content relating to a specific part of the river, via Twitter for instance, in return for a donation. Speaking of Twitter, it does have a “geolocated API” which lets developers build geolocation into their tweets so merging the two channels shouldn’t be that difficult. Additionally, I need to sort out how staff could curate or moderate the content to avoid inappropriate postings.
The sky’s the limit with this app, and I am super excited about its potential. You could actually create a map that goes back in time with layers of content relating to each decade.
I’d love to hear your suggestions for using story maps, as well as your ideas to monetize it and easily automate uploading content from multi-users.